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Criminal Appeals

Criminal Appeals

You have the right to appeal without an attorney, but one mistake and your appeal may be dismissed. If you can't afford a lawyer the appellate court will appoint one for you.

An appeal does NOT stop the trial court's order. You must do what the trial court ordered you to do during the appeal, unless you are granted a stay.

- A new trial with witnesses or a jury;
- A chance to do the case in front of a new judge;
- An opportunity to present new evidence or new witnesses.

A Criminal Appeal Is

A criminal appeal is when someone who loses a case in a trial court asks a higher court (the appellate court) to review the jury's or trial court's decision.

In almost all cases, the appellate court ONLY looks at two things:
1) Whether a LEGAL mistake was made in the trial court; AND
2) Whether this mistake changed the final decision (called the "judgment") in the case.

About Us

Michael Devereux is a highly respected criminal appellate attorney in Los Angeles. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of appellate rights and constitutional law, make Mr. Devereux an elite criminal appellate attorney. Not every lawyer can successfully handle appeals. It is important to find an attorney who understands the appeals process and has the legal research and reasoning skills to effectively handle your case. A badge of honor for every criminal appellate attorney is a published opinion. A published opinion is indicative that the appellate court took the matter serious and didn't believe that the criminal appellate attorney was just blowing smoke. A published opinion is a sign that the criminal appellate attorney understand the appeals process and is efficient with legal research and reasoning skills. The vast majority of criminal appellate attorneys do not have a published opinion. Michael Devereux does have a published opinion in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the highest court of appeals other than the United States Supreme Court.

Why Retaining An Elite Appellate Attorney Matters

You have the right to appeal a criminal case without a lawyer. But criminal appeals are very complicated and take a lot of time, effort, and money. You have to do all the paperwork correctly, meet the deadlines, and follow all the court's rules and procedures. If you make mistakes, your case may be dismissed. A criminal appellate lawyer with experience in appeals can help you make sure you complete every step correctly and on time. Also, a criminal appellate lawyer can help you decide if you can or should file an appeal at all. A lawyer may know how to get what you want faster and cheaper by using a different legal process such as a writ or a motion for reconsideration. Many lawyers do not do appeals, so make sure you talk to a lawyer who specializes in appeals. Ask if they have a published opinion.

An Appeal Is Not:

A) A new trial with witnesses or a jury;
B) A chance to go to court and present your case all over again in front of a different judge; or
C) A chance to present new evidence or new witnesses.

The appellate court only reviews what happened in the trial court to decide if a legal mistake was made in the original trial; for example, to see if the trial court judge applied the wrong law to the facts of the case.

The appellate court cannot change the trial court's decision just because the appellate court judges (called "justices") disagree with it. The trial court is entitled to hear the evidence and come to its own decision. The appellate court can only reverse the trial court's decision if it finds a legal mistake in the trial court proceedings that was so important that it changed at least part of the outcome of the case. Because of this heavy burden on the criminal appellant to prove this type of mistake, it is quite difficult to win a criminal appeal.

Also, keep in mind that filing an appeal does NOT stop the trial court's order. Unless you ask the trial or appellate court to postpone ("stay") the trial court's order, you must do what the trial court's order requires you to do during the appeal. A request for a stay can be complicated. Ask an Wexford Law lawyer if one of these options would be good in your case and get help. But remember that a criminal appeal is NOT a way to put off having to comply with the trial court's order.

Criminal Appeal Process

A criminal appeal is not a new trial, but it can give the defendant a second chance to clear their name and preserve their freedom. The following steps are involved in a successful appeal:

    - Choosing an criminal appellate lawyer to handle your appeal. Not every criminal lawyer can successfully handle appeals. It is important to find an attorney who understands the appeals process and has the legal research and reasoning skills to effectively handle the appeal.

    - Filing the Notice of Appeal. This notice must be filed with the trial court where the court trial was heard. The time limit for filing depends on whether it was a federal case or a state case, along the type of conviction — felony, misdemeanor, or infraction.

    - Reviewing the Record on Appeal. The appellate attorney will obtain the Record on Appeal from the trial court clerk. The record consists of the clerk’s transcript and the court reporter’s transcript. The appellate attorney must undertake a thorough review of all documents and transcripts to identify any possible legal errors made in the case.

    - Preparing and filing the opening brief. After careful review of the trial documents for legal errors, the appellate attorney is ready to prepare the opening brief. The brief will summarize what occurred in the court trial and present legal arguments supporting the appeal. The opening brief is the major document of persuasion in an appeal.

    - Oral argument. The appellate attorney and the prosecuting counsel will argue the appeal in front of the three justices assigned to the appeal. The defendant may appear in the appellate court to listen, as well. The justices will listen to the oral arguments, confer with each other, and issue a written decision, affirming or reversing the conviction.


Note: Wexford Law of Los Angeles provides this website for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

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